Dwell Flex ‘Able to Deliver’
During the COVID-19 pandemic, several Christian Reformed congregations were able to adapt their education programs for children by using the new Dwell Flex program.
Created to adapt to a variety of contexts, Dwell Flex is a multi-age edition of Dwell, the CRC’s children’s ministry curriculum. And Dwell Flex has proved especially helpful for ministry to children who have had to stay home during pandemic lockdowns.
“Offering a number of Bible stories, Dwell is being used at churches throughout North America to help children . . . find their place in God's Big Story,” said Jill Benson, Dwell curriculum coordinator.
“This past year we added Dwell Flex — simple sessions for complex times — designed to support churches during the pandemic,” said Benson.
“The response from these materials has been so positive that we've decided to expand Dwell Flex into four years of materials for multi-age groups.”
Here are two churches that have used Dwell Flex to engage children and their family members during the pandemic.
First Christian Reformed Church, Barrie, Ont.
As COVID-19 took hold in her area, Rachel Kapteyn has been grateful that she has been able to use the digitally based Dwell Flex in their [email protected] Sunday school curriculum.
“We needed something that was easy to adapt to our church's needs, was appreciated by all age groups, and provided fun and interactive activities for families to participate in together at home,” said Kapteyn, children’s ministry coordinator at the church.
“Dwell Flex was able to deliver in all those areas. We were so encouraged to hear that our families loved using the curriculum, and we were able to help out other churches in the Barrie area as well.”
Because it is so flexible, Dwell Flex worked very well for their church in many ways, especially because so many people were at home because of the pandemic, added Kapteyn.
“It worked with all age groups, and it had wonderful information that could be used as scripts for our YouTube videos. It was handily laid out for our families to lead lessons at home with ease,” said Kapteyn.
First CRC’s [email protected] video presentations included children from the church’s Sunday school program, Shine Kids.
“We thought it was important for our children to be a part of the video so that they could ‘see’ each other during the pandemic and develop leadership skills in church settings,” said Kapteyn.
In terms of the curriculum, Dwell Flex focuses on Bible stories that have been appreciated by generations for generations. Presented in enjoyable ways, these are stories about compelling characters that come right out of Scripture.
“Bible stories are unchanging and full of capital 'T' Truth. No matter what age we are, we can all find truth in these stories, and they can guide us through any life stage and situation,” said Kapteyn.
Covenant CRC, Edmonton, Alta.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis that seriously affected in-person worship at the church, Jennifer Uitvlugt, the children’s ministry coordinator, had been using the Dwell curriculum only for preschoolers.
“At that time, it was really effective for both leaders and kids — easy to teach and easy to understand. In particular, children ages 3 and 4 enjoyed the repetitive nature of the lessons and the take-home story cards.”
Soon after the pandemic lockdown, however, Uitvlugt switched to using Dwell for the rest of her elementary students. And that, she said, changed the way she plans children's worship — and it's proven to be a valuable resource for the kids and families at the church. She especially appreciated using Dwell Flex, she said.
“During the past 2020/21 season, I created a strictly online children's worship ministry for Covenant CRC because I figured restrictions and isolations would prove to make running both [in-person and online formats] too difficult,” she said.
Dwell Flex made it possible for her to easily convert all of Covenant’s in-house children's worship to an online format.
“I make videos using the Dwell storylines and add worship songs, memory verses, and prayers each week for the kids,” said Uitvlugt.
“This made it so much easier to plan and organize lessons wherever I had an internet connection, and the resources were really easy to get out for home use,” she said.
Families also appreciated the many different elements of each Dwell lesson, she added, from the use of story symbols “to the Easy Extras to the wonder questions that make us all pause and contemplate. Each lesson has parts that focus on different learning styles so that it appeals to all kids.”
One of her goals during the pandemic has been to “stretch out” a Sunday school lesson and bring it into the homes of families so that parents/guardians can take an active role in the children's faith formation, she said.
“Using the God’s Big Story cards in conjunction with the Dwell Flex curriculum has helped make this more possible, and I have received much positive feedback for it,” she added.